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Live From Istanbul


I have arrived in Istanbul Turkey to be an International Observer at the World Tribunal on Iraq. "An undertaking of Historic importance", declared Richard Falk at the press conference this morning. I encourage you to visit the website and familiarize yourself with this event as you won't be reading about it in the media. The press conference this morning was packed, but with International press, I didn't find anyone from a major US media company.

"This is a culmination of tribunal sessions on the legal dimensions of the Iraq War, held in all parts of the world. This kind of spontaneous initiative of concerned people around the world has never taken place before. It represents an expression of what might be called 'moral globalization', acting on the belief that no state and no leader is above the law when it comes to matters of war and peace. It is primarily an expression of popular democracy, of ethical conscience about what is right and wrong in world politics, and an expression of resistance to what is understood around the world as an American project to achieve world domination." continued Richard Falk(UNESCO peace prize holder, Professor of International Law, and co-coordinator for the Tribunal's Panel of Advocates), together with Turgut Tarhanlž (Professor of International Law and Human Rights Law).

The WTI participants from around the world include Iraqi witnesses and experts as well as distinguished international figures such as Dennis Halliday(Former Assistant to the UN Secretary General and Director of the UN Humanitarian Aid Programme), Souad Naji Al-Azzawi (Director of the Doctorate Programme in Environmental Engineering in Iraq), and Phil Shiner, a human rights lawyer who has uncovered evidence that U.S. troops have tortured detainees in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Jury of Conscience is chaired by award-winning author Arundathi Roy and is comprised of 15 people from different parts of the world with different areas of expertise. The entire list and schedule are at www.worldtribunal.org.

The Tribunal will consist of three days of hearings investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq. Such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of cultural sites and the environment. The session in Istanbul is the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years. They have compiled a definitive historical record of evidence about the invasion and the occupation.

Many who can't attend have written letters exclaiming the importance of this gathering, and I want to share one with you:

The records have to be kept and, by definition, the perpetrators, far from keeping records, try to destroy them. They are killers of the innocent and of memory. The records are required to inspire still further the mounting opposition to the new global tyranny. The new tyrants, incomparably over-armed, can win every war - both military and economic. Yet they are losing the war (this is how they call it) of communication. They are not winning the support of world public opinion. More and more people are saying NO. Finally this will be the tyranny's undoing. But after how many more tragedies, invasions and collateral disasters? After how much more of the new poverty the tyranny engenders? Hence the urgency of keeping records, of remembering, of assembling the evidence, so that the accusations become unforgettable, and proverbial on every continent. More and more people are going to say NO, for this is the precondition today for saying YES to all we are determined to save and everything we love.

JOHN BERGER 18.06.2003 PARIS ­ MIEUSSY

The session opens tomorrow morning with Arundhati Roy. Please continue to watch and read and spread the word. If the governments and the United Nations are unable and unwilling to hold leaders of the world responsible, then citizens acting on behalf of civil society have the right and the duty to challenge and oppose an illegal war and practices that violate international humanitarian law. It is after all, in the famous words of the UN Charter, "We the peoples of the world", who are "determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

I write this as the House of Representatives announces formation of the Out of Iraq caucus with 61 founding members. News from Tom Hayden that a Turkish-based news service has just reported that 82 members of the Iraqi parliament have sent a letter calling for withdrawal to the leader of the 285 member body. They not only want withdrawal, they are attacking their leadership for ignoring the Iraqi constituents and asking the US/UN to continue the occupation. And the U.S. anti-war communities keeping the pressure on both Congress and the media about the Downing Street Memos, which basically say the war was undertaken with knowledge of breaking the law.

We can feel the Bush palace of lies crumbling beneath him, but it is up to all of us to spread the word!!!!